There’s a murder mystery to solve at Theatre Severn this week and our reviewer David Ballinger went along to see if he could figure it out
Dial M for Murder is a thriller made famous by the Alfred Hitchcock film version of the play written by Frederick Knott in the 1950s.
This production is firmly rooted in the late 1960s – which does jar slightly at times with the play’s themes – but the mood is brilliantly set by a fabulous soundtrack which has the audience humming along before the curtain goes up on the action.
The set – the living room of the Maida Vale ground floor flat where all the action takes place – resonates of the era with nice touches like a soda stream, pot plants and a rack full of LPs and a record player alongside the pale green cushions and curtains.
Tom Chambers (Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road and Strictly Come Dancing) plays Tony Wendice, and is excellent as the sinister sophisticated ex-tennis ace who plots the murder of his wife Margot after discovering she has been unfaithful with crime writer Max (Michael Salami).
It is fun to watch as he has to jump through more and more hoops to keep his plans on track to inherit his wife’s money after her death.
Diana Vickers takes that role of the Sixties socialite Margot with aplomb – looking every bit the part as her life descends into chaos and a living hell.
But the star turn comes from Christopher Harper, first as the doomed con man Captain Lesgate who is blackmailed into attempting the murder of Margot by Wendice, his ex-school pal.
Then he takes on the role on Inspector Hubbard who investigates the crime with relish, attempting to unpick the thread of deception sewn by Wendice – he could teach Columbo a thing or two (‘Just one more thing . . .).
It takes the production a few minutes to get up to speed, and some of the lighting cues seemed slightly off – but overall all it’s an enjoyable night out at the theatre.
Maybe a photograph of Hitchcock himself would have been a nice touch – he could have thrown some light on another of the great mysteries thrown up by the pandemic – whatever happened to the theatre programme sellers?
But it was so good to be part of a packed audience at Theatre Severn once again – we’ve missed the experience of live theatre which can’t be beaten.
Why not pop along and see if you can figure out the key to the play’s final denouement?
There are still tickets left for the production which runs at Theatre Severn until Saturday night.
Check out www.theatresevern.co.uk
Former Strictly winner Tom Chambers plays Tony Wendice, the sinister sophisticated ex-tennis ace who plots the murder of his wife Margot